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guide to caminito del rey

Guide to Caminito del Rey

The Caminito del Rey, a walkway along the Guadalhorce River gorge, reopened at Easter 2016. Touted as one of the world’s most dangerous walks, it has quickly become one of the biggest attractions in Malaga. It’s also one of the best half-day trips from Malaga, but does it live up to the media hype?

Countless blog posts (including some very good ones) have been written about the walk. There’s even a Google street view walk. But practical information on the Caminito del Rey is a bit thin on the ground so in this post we provide answers to what we think are the most common questions.

Questions about getting to and from the Caminito del Rey

How do I get there by car?

From Malaga take the A-357 to Ardales. Once you pass the village (on your left), turn right and follow signposts to ‘Los Embalses’. This winding road takes you to the lakes/ reservoirs.

You have two options to park your car:

  1. At the Visitors Centre (centro de visitantes), open 8am to 5pm, cost €2. From here, you can get the shuttle bus to the start of the walk (€2.50 valid both ways and all day). The journey takes 15-20 minutes.
    You can book your parking space and bus ticket when you buy your Caminito del Rey tickets. The bus drops you off at the tunnel. Car park P on map below.
  2. Or park near the restaurants and walk to a tunnel with a green sign ‘Caminito del Rey 1.5km’. Car park P1 in map below.
location of car parks at Caminito del Rey

(Source: UTE Caminito del Rey)

Go through the tunnel (with wooden boards and fully-illuminated) and follow the track round until you reach the start of the walk.

How do I get there on public transport?

Yes, if you fit your visit in with train times. There are 5 trains a day in each direction:

Regional trains

The Malaga-Seville regional train line runs from Malaga central station (Málaga Maria Zambrano) to El Chorro at 8.24am, 1.20pm and 6.07pm. Trains return from El Chorro at 9.51am, 10.56am, 3.12pm and 8.18pm. Journey time is 40 to 47 minutes and a return ticket costs from €6.50 to €10.

You can book train tickets for the regional service online via the Renfe website.

The Cercanías line C2 now runs as far as El Chorro from the Cercanías station at the Maria Zambrano station (you can get on at Málaga Centro in the Alameda Principal and change). Trains leave Malaga at 9.43am and 3.43pm, and return from El Chorro at 10.37am and 4.39pm. The journey takes around 50 minutes and a return ticket costs €10.

When you arrive at El Chorro station, look for the Caminito del Rey bus stop just outside and take it to the start of the walk.

Book your Caminito del Rey ticket for a 10.30 or 11am slot, complete the walk and then get the train back.

How do I get from one end to another?

Shuttle buses link the two ends of the walk. They run roughly every 30 to 50 minutes on a first-come-first-served basis so you may not get on the first bus that comes along. The journey costs €2.50 and takes about 15 minutes. You can buy a ticket for the walk with the bus trip already included – we think this is a great idea. The buses run every 30 minutes from 8.30am to 4.30pm. 

Top tip – if your Caminito del Rey ticket doesn’t include the bus, you must pay for your ride when you get on the bus in cash. Bus drivers don’t give change for anything bigger than a €10 note so make sure you’ve got some small change for the fare.

Caminito del Rey walkway

Questions about the Caminito del Rey walkway itself

Is it dangerous?

Compared to the original walkway, not at all! But there is a degree of danger because after all, the walk runs 100m above the gorge. That said, we felt very safe throughout the walk. A steel mesh fence runs along the entire walkway and there’s along a steel cable on the cliff side to hold on to if you wish. Cameras, alarm posts and attendants are placed along the walk so help at hand if needed. You’re also equipped with a hard hat.

Top tip – if you’re hoping to look good in your Caminito del Rey photos, make sure your hard hat is on straight (our older daughter’s hat is lop-sided in all ours!).

Can you look down?

If you have any sort of fear of heights (see question below), then don’t look down because when you walk through the gorge the drop down is sheer and long. Do look up and ahead because the scenery is magnificent.

don't look down

What about if you’re afraid of heights?

2 people in our party have issues with heights but they both managed the walk more or less easily. They said they felt safe throughout and even managed to look down a couple of times. The suspension bridge at the end was a real challenge for them (the high winds didn’t help) but they made it. However, this isn’t a walk if you suffer from vertigo.

Is it suitable for children?

Children under 8 are not allowed to go on the walk. For over 8s, we think it’s a great experience.

Questions about walking the Caminito del Rey

How long does it take?

The total length is nearly 8km so you can in theory finish it in less than 2 hours. However, this is a walk to be savoured – the scenery and engineering are amazing – so you’ll probably take longer. We took 3 and a half hours, which included stopping for photos and to read the information panels on the way.

Views on Caminito del Rey

Is it a hard walk?

No, but it isn’t a stroll either. It’s practically all flat except for some steep steps at the end.

What about food and drink?

There’s nothing en route so take your own. The middle section (non-walkway) has some nice spots for a picnic if you’re making a day of it. There are several restaurants at both ends for lunch.

What sort of clothing should I wear?

Sturdy footwear such as trainers or walking boots. The regulations say that visitors in flipflops or high heels won’t be allowed on the walkway. If you’re visiting in the summer, take a hat to protect yourself from the sun and in the winter, take some warm layers – the wind blows very cold down the gorge!

Are there toilets on the way?

No, but there are toilets at the start and finish.

Caminito del Rey walkway

How to get Caminito del Rey tickets

How do I book?

1 of the biggest challenges for this walk can be getting tickets! They can only be booked via the website and once they’re released, they go very quickly, although availability has improved a lot over the last few months. Check the website regularly for new booking windows or contact the tourist offices in Álora or Ardales to see if they have tickets.

What do I need to book?

To book you need to register on the site with an email address and password. Once you’ve registered, you must provide your full name and the number on your identification document (passport or national ID card) when you book. You must show this document when you arrive to start the walk.

What does it cost?

The Caminito del Rey costs €10. We think this is good value for one of the prime attractions in Malaga and well worth the price of a ticket. When you book online you have the option to buy the bus ticket (€2.50) at the same time. Handy if you’re planning to get the bus from one end to the other.

Do I have to book far in advance?

As one of the most popular things to do in Malaga, tickets get sold out quickly. The website offers limited availability too so it pays to plan ahead and book in time to be sure of a visit.

Last-minute availability: If you can’t get tickets before you come to Malaga, check the website while you’re here – last-minute tickets are often available for the next day.

Can we do a guided tour?

Some tour companies offer guided tours of Caminito del Rey and you can also book them via the website. They take place in English on weekdays at 10am and 1pm, and on weekends at 10am, 1pm and 1.30pm. They cost €18 (€19.55 with bus ticket included). We haven’t been on a guided tour ourselves but we know several people who have and they highly recommend them. You get a unique insight into the history of the Caminito and its geology and fauna.

You can also take a guided tour from Malaga that includes the bus trip there and back as well as entry to Caminito del Rey. This sort of tour costs from around €60. 

Questions about the history of Caminito del Rey

What is the origin of the walkway?

The Gaitanes Gorge (Desfiladero de los Gaitanes in Spanish) carved by the Guadalhorce River – just 10 metres wide at some points and 700 metres high – is an essential part of communications and the water and electricity supplies in Malaga.

In 1866, the railway line connecting Cordoba and Malaga via the gorge was completed and a hydroelectric station at El Chorro was built shortly afterwards. At the beginning of the 1900s, a walkway was installed along the gorge so that local people could easily get from one end to the other.

Why’s it called the King’s walkway?

It’s named after King Alfonso XIII who walked along it in 1921 when he placed the last stone on the reservoir dam. A white stone seat and plaque commemorate the occasion – see this on the right as you cross the road over the reservoir. The walkway has just celebrated its centenary!

Lakes in Malaga

Why was it closed?

When you walk the Caminito del Rey, the answer’s obvious – the old path became extremely dangerous from rain erosion and lack of repair. So dangerous in fact that several climbers were killed while attempting to walk it. The walkway was closed in 1990.

Old and new Caminito del Rey

When did it open again?

In March 2015 the walkway was finally opened to the public again. It took several years of ambitious engineering – some stretches of the walkway had to be put in place by helicopter – and 2.24 million euros to restore the Caminito del Rey to its former glory.

Questions about the area

The Caminito del Rey is in one of the most dramatic parts of Malaga province where there’s plenty to do besides walk the walk:

Visit the lakes – combine your walk with a day out at the lakes. Relax on the beaches and take a turn on the water in a kayak or pedalo. Read about a Day at the Lakes.

Discover Ardales – a pretty little village with some great caves (get tickets for a guided tour at the museum) and lovely tapas bars.

Explore Bobastro – a medieval Christian Basilica built a rebel Moor in the middle of nowhere. Read all about it here.

day at the lakes in Malaga

And finally does Caminito del Rey live up to the media hype?

Caminito del Rey probably isn’t the world’s most dangerous walk but it definitely counts as one of the most spectacular. And being 100m up on a wooden walkway does come with a certain adrenaline rush. It makes a great day out and we certainly recommend it as a must-do activity for anyone on holiday in Malaga.

Any new developments at Caminito del Rey?

In early 2019, the provincial authorities announced 3 new developments for Caminito del Rey:

  1. Extension of the hanging walkway. They plan to add 350m to the end of the walk (next to the hanging bridge in our main picture at the top of this page). This is the most difficult part of the new additions as installing hanging platforms involves helicopters and climbing engineers!
  2. Upgrade of the path that goes to the Pico del Convento and is a natural addition to the Caminito del Rey. The path takes you through El Chorro forests to a viewing point with stunning vistas of the surrounding area.
  3. Upgrade of the path leading full circle back to the main Caminito del Rey car parks. This will mean you don’t have to get the bus and can walk the whole way round.

The timeline for these new developments hasn’t been confirmed but once approval arrives from the regional authorities, work will start and take around a year. Expect these additions sometime in 2024.

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